And I’m back at it.
This summer has been by no means fun on a large scale for most people, I think, so I’ve decided to bring back my recurring column that I have to assume is only fun for myself and a very small number or readers.
In any event, let’s take a quick look at a few events that people may not know about that occurred during this week. This week marks the anniversary of the moon landing - easily one of the most important events in human history - but I’m going to look at things that I think may have flown a bit more under the radar.
Here we go.
1799: Rosetta Stone uncovered
It’s hard to believe, but the discovery of a certain rock has done more to help us understand an entire civilization than most of us could believe.
Before the stone’s discovery, no living person could decipher or translate Egyptian hieroglyphs, then along comes this stone with hieroglyphs carved into it, alongside the corresponding words written in ancient Greek.
Thanks to the Rosetta Stone, we have a substantially better understanding of what was arguably one the world’s superpowers 3,000 years ago.
1976: “Viking 1” spacecraft lands on Mars
This week in history will always belong to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the “Apollo” program, but Viking 1 has its place in history as the first craft to successfully perform a mission on the surface of Mars, and the second craft to land on the red planet (the Soviet Union actually beat the U.S. to Mars, but their craft stopped transmitting after just 14 seconds).
Not only did the craft land on Mars, it transmitted photos to NASA for more than six years.
1865: The first quick-draw duel
If you have seen virtually any western ever, you’ll know what a quick-draw duel is. Two men agree their location isn’t big enough for the two of them, so they stand several paces apart and see which can draw their pistol and fire off a deadly shot the fastest.
In this first one, Wild Bill Hickok shot and killed Davis Tutt in Springfield, Missouri. Tutt missed, and Wild Bill shot him through the heart
1894: The first automobile race
The sport of racing cars would not really gain any sort of mainstream popularity for decades after this, but all started on this day in Paris when a few auto drivers competed to see who could make it to the French city of Rouen first, covering a distance of roughly 50 miles.
Fun fact: The winner of the race had an average speed of 10.2 mph - or 1/20 the average speed traveled in your typical Nascar event and 2/3 the sprinting speed of the average human.
That is all for this time around. Geeking out about history is one of those little things that makes me happy, and I hope it made a few of you happy as well.